All House Owners In Ghana Must Take This Notice Serious
Ejecting a tenant from your house can become a very daunting task and many landlords and agents usually resort to self help.
Self help like we all know is the ultimate use of ones efforts to evict a tenant from their houses or premises and these include: changing the key locks of the tenant’s building, mobilizing uniformed personnel to forcefully remove the tenant and their belongings from the premises, seizing the tenant’s property and/or employing other forceful ejection mechanisms.
It is without doubt that a landlord, who is the owner of the premises or house, may settle on ejecting a tenant simply because they intend to use their premises.
However, the law provides a specific process or procedure which must be followed for as self help is not advisable.
This article will school you on some of the circumstances that may give rise to a tenant’s ejection and the procedure for ejection under the Nigerian Law.
Definition of Terms
The tenant/lessee is a party who has been permitted the right to the use and occupation of the landlord’s property usually for a rent.
The right is usually given to the tenant to use the rental property for residential and/or commercial purposes and for a fixed period or periodically such as yearly, monthly, weekly among others.
The landlord/lessor is the owner of the rental property and grants the right to the use of the rental property to the tenant.
The landlord retains the reversionary interest in the rental property, that means that at the expiration or termination of the tenant’s lease, the landlord retains all the rights and interest in the property.
The rental property or the demised premises is the property that has been given out or on a more legal ground leased to the tenant for rent.
When Can a Tenant Be Ejected?
Under the Lagos State Tenancy law, 2011, a landlord can effect without mercy the eviction process if one or more of the following circumstances are present:
1. If the tenant violates a fundamental clause in the tenancy agreement. If the tenant flouts any fundamental term in the lease agreement, such as payment of rent, violating any covenant in the agreement, etc, this constitutes a breach of contract and the landlord in such case has the right to eject the tenant from the rental property;
2. If the tenant is in arrears of rent. If upon several demands, the tenant fails to pay the rent, the tenant should be notified in writing by late rent notice and if payment is not made, the landlord can commence the ejection process;
3. If the landlord requires the use of the rental property. The landlord can choose to eject a tenant if the landlord wishes to use the rental property. If the tenancy is for a fixed term, it is important for the landlord to allow the term to expire before ejecting the tenant. However, if it is a periodic tenancy, the landlord can terminate the tenancy after the period for which payment has been made has expired;
4. If the tenant is using the rental property for illicit or immoral purposes. If the tenant is using the landlord’s property for immoral or illegal purpose such as robbery, prostitution, etc, the landlord can eject the tenant from the rental property;
5. If the property is unsafe for habitation which constitutes a danger to human life. When the the rental property is collapsing, or the building structures have been totally destroyed, etc, the property is said to be unsafe for habitation and in such cases, the tenant can be ejected from the rental property;
6. If the rental property has been abandoned. If the tenant deserts the rental property, the tenant can be ejected from the rental property.
The Forms of Leases
Under the law.
The process of ejecting a tenant from your house or premises largely depends on the type of lease that was created, for this purpose, we shall highlight the different forms or types of leases under the Nigerian law:
1. Periodic leases
This is a lease that started the date but no end date. The tenancy continues until it is terminated by either the tenant or the landlord upon the issuance of a written notice.
The forms of periodic tenancies are weekly tenancies, monthly tenancies, yearly tenancies, quarterly tenancies etc.
The weekly tenant pays rent every week, the monthly tenant pays rent every month, the yearly tenant pays the rent every year and the quarterly tenant pays rent every three months until the tenancy is terminated.
2. Fixed-term leases
This type or kind of lease lasts for a specified period per the agreement between the parties.
In cases like this, once this period expires, the tenant is required to vacate the premises except the tenancy is renewed.
Also, once the period of tenancy expires, the landlord is not required to issue a quit notice, the landlord is only required to issue a seven days owner’s intention to recover possession.
The Process Involved In Evicting a Tenant
2. The first step is to find out if the tenant is in arrears of rent.
In this kind of case, the landlord or its authorized agent is required a Late Rent Notice to the tenant. Under the law, a landlord can seek an order of possession and an order for the recovery of unpaid rent in court.
The landlord will be required to give an evidence of the non-payment of arrears of rent in court.
2. If the landlord intends to abrogate the lease, the landlord or an authorized agent usually a lawyer should issue a notice to quit on the tenant.
According to the law, the landlord is not required to issue the notice to quit on a tenant in a fixed-term lease provided the lease term has expired and in this case, the landlord can issue a seven days owner’s intention to recover possession.
However, it is mandatory by law for a landlord to issue this notice for periodic leases and length of the notice to quit depends on the agreement of the parties.
3. If the tenant refuses to vacate the rental property after the expiration of the quit notice, the owner of the property or his lawyer will issue a seven days owner’s intention to recover possession to the tenant.
Please be informed that this type of notice is required for the two forms of leases.
4. Once all notices have expired and the tenant refuses to vacate the rental property, the owner of the property can within seven days from the expiration of the notice of owner’s intention to recover possession, commence an action in court for recovery of premises.
The property owner can in addition to the claim for recovery, make claims for arrears of rent and mense profits.